Down to the Wire
This is a last minute post about last minute shopping. Pressed for time and more importantly money, it’s tempting to play it safe. Buy something you know they want, a gift certificate to a store they love, or the safest of all – not picking an item or even a store – just a pre-paid tab anywhere Master Card, Visa or American Express is accepted. All are good options and if any of them is waiting for me under a tree – thank you, I love it! But if you’ve waited but still want to find something bigger than an envelope and smaller than a bread box (or an actual bread box), I scouted out a few stores in my neighborhood that have never failed me. With little time to spare, I want to know that I can still find something thoughtful, unique, or beautiful whenever possible. Here are just a few stores where I found all three. If you can’t make it Smith Street before Christmas, they’re definitely worth a visit soon if only to use those handy gift cards.
1. Mongo (246 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY, 917.671.7696): I’d been eyeing the antique teapots form the 1920’s to the present ($29-$225) and slanted coffee cups (4oz/$48 set of 4, 8oz/$64 set of 4) on the cast glass cake stand for weeks when I finally went inside. Stocked like a walk-in curiosity cabinet, the windows are lined with vintage colored glass ($10-32) and it would be easier to list what they don’t carry.
2. Home & Haven (177 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY, 718.875.1775): Going to Home & Haven is like visiting your well-traveled friend’s, perfectly put together apartment for a dinner party except that you can walk away with the dishes you admired, wrap up the beautiful Moroccan glasses you’d been using, and throw it all into the Day of the Dead mesh shopper bags you wish you’d brought back from Mexico. Filled with contemporary home and bath items, including the remaining stock of the hard to find Panik Tobin line, I love her variety Provence baskets. Trimmed with camel hide (starting at $55-$75) and perfect for the market hopping, they let me indulge my favorite weekend activity – pretending I’m actually in Paris.
3. The Invisible Dog (51 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, NY, 347.560.3641): Just off of Smith, the Invisible Dog follows a pretty typical Brooklyn narrative. Housed in the converted factory that churned out the eponymous leashes (apparently a hit at at Studio 54) until it was boarded up and abandoned in the 1990s, it was rediscovered by Muriel Guépin and Lucien Zayan and transformed into a gallery/event/studio/retail space. Never knowing what you’ll find, they had a small but interesting collection for the holidays including New York-themed Brooklyn Rehab tableware ($12-$55), Twist Together Lamp sets installed throughout the space ($120), and invisible dog leases for the inevitable revival ($20).
4. Rapisarda (177 Court Street, Brooklyn, NY, 718.797.6863): My favorite Christmas present this year came early when my friend gave me a Celia Cruz tote bag from alfalfa-seeds’ Seven Latin Divas collection. In addition to Celia, the bags feature Carmen Miranda, Maria Félix, Rocio Durcal, Evita Peron, Frida Kahlo, and Selena – all women I aspire to be like depending on the day’s soundtrack. It’s become my favorite gift to give this year so I was thrilled when Claudia Rapisarda started carrying them in her Court Street store where you can find everything else that makes up a diva.
5. Enamoo (109 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY, 718.624.0175): This t-shirt/art/antiques store could be voted most likely to reanimate after dark. You half expect the toys to start spinning, etched wine glasses ($19) to sing, and tree-top angel to float away ($57). If I was looking for a gremlin, I’d start here.